The home side had twice been in the lead but the nerve-jangling match went to penalty shots. The decisive one fell to DeLuca, whose 24-game stint with Sheffield has not always gone smoothly.
He had been criticised for his conditioning and team-play, at one point, at Guildford Flames,Â was a healthy scratch. But the 23-year-old forward held his nerve in sudden death penalty shot to scoreÂ the 3-2 winner.
The teams had fought out a nip and tuck goalless first period, with the visiting starting line of Tanner Eberle, John Armstrong and RobÂ Dowd showing promise.
Eberel's fast feet and tricky handling opened up a chance but home goalie Michael Garnett was up to it.
Jordan Owens, perhaps buoyed by scoring for the first time in 16 games in his last appearance, was also denied by Garnett.
Panthers struck blood though through skilled Canadian winger Alexander Guptill, who tipped in Oliver Betteridge's drive, over Jackson Whistle's shoulder.
Guptill could have doubled his tally soon afterwards.
But five minutes into the third section, Evan McGrath took control, drove the net and gifted Jonathan Phillips the chance to tuck the puck home for 1-1. The goal survived video review.
Guptill belted the puck into Whistle's pipework as the play swung to the other end. And Panthers squeezed back in front, when defenceman Jaynen Rissling scored.
With four minutes left Sheffield - for the umpteenth time this season - clawed their way back.
On a power play Mark Matheson skated through on goal effortlessly clipped the puck home, assisted by Ben O'Connor.
Steelers hit the post before the regulation time ended, signalling a frantic overtime, which included Owens taking a hooking call.
So the edge-of-the-seat spectacle moved to penalty shots...and what a drama that was.
Justin Kovacs and Dowd were the only scorers out of the first 10 shooters.
That meant sudden death - Anthony DeLuca scored...and Kovacs missed to send the away fans into rapture.
The two teams do it all again tomorrow night, at Sheffield Arena.